Laid-off workers who were ordered by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to repay retirement payouts given to them 16 years ago as loans yesterday launched a hunger strike in front of the council’s headquarters in Taipei, demanding it withdraw the lawsuits against the workers who did not pay and calling for a review of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
“We are not asking the council to do much, only to revise Article 28 of the Labor Standards Act. We are not asking you to do much, only to withdraw lawsuits against these laid-off workers,” Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) spokeswoman of Raged Citizens Act Now told the crowd during a rally before the hunger strike started.
“Why is the government going after these elderly, retired workers who are mostly economically disadvantaged instead of chasing fugitives who have committed financial crimes that have a much larger impact on society?” she said.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
Article 28 stipulates that unpaid salaries take priority in debt repayment after a company declares bankruptcy. However, activists and workers want retirement and severance payments to be added to the clause and be given the same degree of repayment priority.
She said that if the government does not respond positively to the protesters’ demands, unionists and activists would mull launching a large-scale strike.
Many factories in the textile or electronics industries closed in 1996, leaving hundreds of laid-off workers without retirement payouts or months of unpaid wages.
After a series of demonstrations, the council decided to give the laid-off workers retirement payouts as loans, and promised that it would ask the workers’ employers to repay the debts.
However, beginning last year, all workers who accepted the loans were asked to repay them, and those who are unable to repay them were sued by the council.
Lin Tzu-wen (林子文), one of the protesters, said he had taken part in a hunger strike in front of the council building 16 years ago.
“Twenty-eight hours into the hunger strike 16 years ago, council officials finally came out to negotiate with us, and eventually came up with the loan program,” Lin said. “Apparently the council lied to us about not asking us to repay, so here we are again.”
He added that by taking part in the hunger strike, he and his peers were turning their bodies into a channel of protest, “because we workers have nothing left but our bodies.”
The protest was largely peaceful. However, clashes broke out between the protesters and the police because the council would not allow the protesters to use the toilets inside the building.
Workers then set up their own temporary toilets using a large banner, plastic chairs and garbage bags.
However, when some protesters tried to use the toilets, police officers confiscated their equipment, and said the protesters were violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法).
The police later agreed to help negotiate with the council to allow the protesters to use the toilets.
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
‘HEROIC’: A lack of personal protective equipment has led to high infection rates among health workers in places like Spain and Italy, a nurses’ association said More equipment is needed to protect the world’s nurses working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, the head of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said. “They are heroic. I think there is no other way to describe what they are doing at this moment,” said Howard Catton, a British nurse who is the council’s CEO. Infection rates of 9 percent and 12 to 14 percent have been reported among health workers in Italy and Spain respectively, he said, adding that nurses have died in the two nations, as well as Iran and Indonesia. “We have no doubt
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo